Question Everything

    Verify Everything

This site is concerned with the study of The Fourth Way as taught by Gurdjieff, and approaches this study via all of Gurdjieff's books, C. S. Nott's two books, one book by Ouspensky, and two relatively new books which are "Hidden Meanings and Picture-form language in the writings of G. I. Gurdjieff," and

"Gurdjieff's Buried Dog II"
(Gurdjieff's instruction on the Creation of Higher Being Bodies)

 (For more on "Buried Dog II" Scroll Down)

The last two mentioned books give extensive coverage to several books including Ouspensky's "In Search of the Miraculous," Nott's "Teachings of Gurdjieff," and, of course, "Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson," "Meetings with Remarkable Men," "Life is real only then, when I am," and "The Herald of Coming Good."

                                                    Hidden Meanings

As introduction to "Hidden Meanings" I will use the description from the back cover of the book, which description was provided by my Wife, Emily, and my daughter, Sophia.  They wrote:

"Recalling Gurdjieff's intent for his first series: "To destroy, mercilessly, without any compromises whatsoever, in the mentation and feelings of the reader, the beliefs and views, by centuries rooted in him, about everything existing in the world."  For years Gurdjieff's followers have been working, reading, struggling to understand his writings. We are like miners chipping away at the rocks of his books, seeking the dog he so carefully buried.  That "dog" has been waiting patiently to be disinterred, but we have been digging with the wrong tools. A few new "shovels" and "picks" which may be helpful are suggested in this book. They are here for the taking; use them as you will.  As a word of caution, though, be careful when you pull the dog out.  He can be, at times, a bit wild.  And let's face it, he's probably hungry after fifty years underground. That is to say, that dog could jump up and bite the legs right out from under some of your more treasured beliefs - or it might even bite you somewhere dearer. 
"The purpose of the second series is "To acquaint the reader with the material required for a new creation, and to prove the soundness and good quality of it." It is a ripening of time. The seeds of Gurdjieff's Picture-form language have been planted for over five decades, and are now ready to burst through the soil of our Psyche to reveal the holographic images of the messages he intended for us. 

"And the purpose of the third series: "To assist the arising in the mentation and in the feelings of the reader, of a veritable, nonfantastic representation not of that illusory world which he now perceives, but of the world existing in reality." "And with regard to languages (Russian and English)," Gurdjieff said, "both these languages are like the dish which is called "Moscow Solinka," and into which everything goes except you and me, in fact everything you wish and even the after dinner chesma (veil) of Sheherazade. And from behind that veil Gurdjieff's hand now reaches to pull back the curtain, enabling us to see, if we will but open our eyes to the images hidden behind the words, the esoteric teachings of the ages through which all things become possible. 
                                                         Emily and Sophia Henderson

And the purpose of my book is to assist the reader in becoming aware of some of the techniques used by Gurdjieff to veil not only his inner, but even his inmost, teachings.
                                                                                                                 John Henderson

                                        The First Three Chapters

One should have already become well familiar with Gurdjieff's books, having read them in the recommended ways, that is, three times: first, reading in the usual way; second, aloud, as if reading to someone else; and third, making a real attempt to comprehend.  One should also have studied Patriarch Nott's books, particularly his first book, "Teachings of Gurdjieff."
  Only after that sufficient preparation will my book "Hidden Meanings" make even the slightest sense to you.

However, the first three chapters of the book may be read in advance of your preparations without damage, and may, in the process, not only prepare you for a better understanding of my book, but by reading those chapters you will be informed as to "Beelzebub's Hidden Thought", which is Gurdjieff clever way of exposing, in advance, the distortion and damage brought on by the revision of his writings, which he well knew to be, as with all significant writings, inevitable.

So, I will include either a copy of the first three chapters, or a clickable link to those chapters at a later date; but, as this site is still under construction, for the time being use the following web site, which is called "Scribd." in order to peruse the first three chapters:

About Gurdjieff's Buried Dog II

(The Creation of Higher Being Bodies)

This book is about Gurdjieff's teachings on our evolution by way of the growth and development of kesdjan and higher-Being bodies.  After all, the development of higher bodies is the ultimate goal of our studies, as it is the ultimate goal of his writings.

Having studied the works of Gurdjieff for some long time, we already know that he would not make his most prized instruction easy to find.  Still, a promise is a promise; and that is what I wish to point out to you - that Gurdjieff promised to include real and practical instruction on both the astral and divine bodies of man, and he said he would provide that instruction in his third series (see below). 

Now, while the majority of would-be followers of Gurdjieff's ideas believe, as instructed by Jeanne de Salzmann, that the third series was never finished, those who have studied "Herald" and my book "Hidden Meanings" know that the third series is actually the third, the inmost layer of the three levels of Gurdjieff's writings: the first or outer layer consists of words and the meaning of those words, the inner or second layer is composed of various forms of analogy (metaphor, simile, fables or "tales," and so on), and the third, inmost layer which is written in picture-form language, that is, for the third layer (version) of his writings Gurdjieff uses words to create images, and those images (without the words) carry his meaning.

In the present case, we will find that the information on kesdjan and higher bodies is presented by Gurdjieff using a combination of all three – words, analogy, and images, and the various sections which reveal his teaching are drawn from various places in all four of his books.  If that sounds complicated, well, that is because it is; but it is by Gurdjieff's design that it is so.  Nevertheless, it is doable, because Gurdjieff provides all that is needed to find his hidden meaning.  For those of you who have long studied the writings of Gurdjieff, you will find that your years of hard work have prepared you well (perhaps better than you know) for this effort, and you will be rewarded for all those years of study by finally discovering Gurdjieff's inmost teaching, which teaching pertains directly to the question of how to form and nourish kesdjan and higher bodies.

Gurdjieff's Promise

In his own words Gurdjieff states that he will include the information: "…relating to the question of the soul, that is, the third independently formed part of the common presence of a man, in the chapter entitled ‘The divine body of man, and its needs and possible manifestations according to law‘, but only in the third series of my writings, as complementary to two chapters of the same series which I have already decided and promised to devote—one to the words of the venerable Persian dervish concerning the body, that is, the first independently formed part in the common presence of a man, and the other to the elucidations of the old ex-exounavouran concerning the second independently formed part of a man, namely, his spirit.” (Meetings with Remarkable Men" pg. 243)

Gurdjieff is a man off his word; he keeps his promise - as you will see and verify for yourself as we move through the chapters of this book.                                                                         The Author

Gurdjieff’s Buried Dog II
(The Creation of Higher Being Bodies)

(Copyright 2014, by John Henderson)

Chapter One

Introduction: Concerning a new discovery

I have for some long time found it more than just a little odd that: on the one hand, Gurdjieff teaches that the food of the Kesdjan body is in the air we breathe, and that it has to be taken in, in a special and conscious way; and, on the other hand, Gurdjieff gives us so very little, in real and practical terms (little to nothing) on just how one might accomplish this conscious and, presumably, accelerated feeding of Kesdjan body.  Would he “leave us in the lurch" in that essential matter?  No.  Of that I have long been convinced.  But, on the other hand, he, in his inimitable third version style of creating “images without words”, would not necessarily make it easy for just anyone to discover his solution.  Perhaps we have just failed, until now, to notice his instruction.  That has been no small matter for me; rather, it has been a major concern for many years; but, at long last I now can truly say it bothers me no more. 

Gurdjieff did not fail to give us instruction in that essential area, we have simply failed to recognize his directions, given in picture-form language, for the instruction it really is. To my great relief, after all these years I have finally "stumbled" onto the hidden meaning of a particular quaint and even peculiar passage in Beelzebub's Tales, which on the surface appears to be nothing special, a little strange perhaps, and essentially consists of a rather tedious and technical description of something about which we do not really need to know; but, behind the words in third series picture-form language, this tedious description contains instructions for us as to the issue which has for me been a source of bother and puzzlement for so long – that is, how to perform a beneficial accelerated breathing exercise, while, at the same time, avoiding the negative effects of the element in the air which causes the main part of the damage to our bodies.

To proceed further, in a productive way, we will need as preparation to meet two essential requirements.  The first requirement is that “we”, meaning ‘you’, will need a notebook. The second requirement, consisting of four parts, is that we need a good general background on this topic for which we will review four passages, three of which are from “Meetings with Remarkable Men, and one from Life is real.  First, we examine in detail a section in Meetings where Gurdjieff initially introduces the topic and his warnings about the hazards in terms of damage to the physical body from the practice of breathing exercises, ignorantly done; and then a second related passage later in the same book which pertains to the astral body of man, followed by a third related passage, but this one in reference to the divine body of man. Then, from the book “Life is Real”, we will review a section regarding a secret known to initiates of all epochs.

                                        Write It Down

Before reading further, be sure to get yourself a notebook and a pen or pencil.  Gurdjieff used notebooks, and many of them, and he recommended their use to all of his pupils.  I recommended the same to you in my last book, and you will find a notebook to be a significant help with this material as well.  Based upon my experience, if in your reading you pause and wonder whether something should be noted, do not even bother making a decision – just write it down.  Needless to say, when studying the ideas of Gurdjieff we need every possible advantage we can gather up; and even the “little” ones will be helpful.  So, while any such item is still on the page right there in front of you, make a note; otherwise, as is often said, “You will miss it when it’s gone.” 

 Second Series Indications of
Third Series Teachings

(Excerpts from Four Talks)

 (As in the book Hidden Meanings, when quoting from a long excerpt I will again use the double slash (//) to indicate one or more paragraphs have been skipped.)

Now, Gurdjieff sometimes uses second series material to alert us to the existence of third series teachings.  Such is the case in the following four talks.  

                                         Talk #1. The Old Persian Dervish

Concerning the general background from which we will proceed further, in this first of the four passages we cover Gurdjieff speaking with a kindly old dervish when he asks the dervish his advice about breathing exercises:

"Be so kind, Father, and also explain to me what you think of what is called artificial breathing. Believing it useful, I practice it according to the instructions of the yogis, namely, after breathing in the air, I hold it a certain time, and then slowly exhale it.  Perhaps this also should not be done?

The dervish, seeing that my attitude towards his words had completely changed, began to be more in sympathy with me and explained the following:"

If you harm yourself with your way of chewing food, you harm yourself a thousand times more by the practice of this breathing.  All the exercises in breathing which are given in books and taught in contemporary esoteric schools can do nothing but harm.  Breathing, as every sane thinking man should understand, is also a process of feeding, but on another sort of food.  Air, just like our ordinary food, entering the body and being digested there, disintegrates into its component parts, which form new combinations with each other as well as with the corresponding elements of certain substances which are already present.  In this way those indispensable new substances are produced which are continuously being consumed in the various unceasing life processes in the organism of man.
    'You must know that, to obtain any definite new substance, its constituent parts must be combined in exact quantitative proportions. 
    'Let us take the most simple example.  You have to bake bread.  For    this you must first of all prepare the dough.  But to make dough you must take definite proportions of flour and water.  If there is too little water, you will get, instead of dough, something that will crumble at the first touch.  If you take too much water, you will simply get a mash, such as is used for feeding cattle.  It is the same in either case.  You will not get the dough necessary for baking bread.
'The same thing occurs in the formation of every substance necessary for the organism. The parts composing these substances must be combined in strict proportions, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
When you breathe in the ordinary way, you breathe mechanically.  The organism, without you, takes from the air the quantity of substances that it needs.  The lungs are so constructed that they are accustomed to work with a definite amount of air.  But if you increase the amount of air, the composition of what passes through the lungs is changed, and the further inner processes of mixing and balancing must also inevitably be changed.
Without the knowledge of the fundamental laws of breathing in all particulars, the practice of artificial breathing must inevitably lead, very slowly but none the less surely, to self-destruction.

You should bear in mind that besides substances necessary for the organism, the air contains others which are unnecessary and even harmful.
    'Well then, artificial breathing, that is to say, a forced modification of natural breathing, facilitates the penetration into the organism of these numerous substances in the air which are harmful to life, and at the same times upsets the quantitative and qualitative balance of the useful substances.
Artificial breathing also disturbs the proportion between the amount of food obtained from the air and the amount obtained from all our other foods.  Hence, on increasing or diminishing the intake of air, you must correspondingly increase or diminish the amount of other kinds of food; and to maintain the correct proportion you must have a full understanding of your organism.

                                    // (paragraphs on stomach, body mechanics, etc.)

That is why it is a thousand times better to do nothing with our organism.  Better leave it damaged than try to repair it without knowing how.
    'I repeat, our organism is a very complicated apparatus.  It has many organs with processes of different tempos and with different needs.  You must either change everything or nothing.  Otherwise, instead of good you might do harm.

Numerous illnesses arise just from this artificial breathing.  In many  cases it leads to enlargement of the heart, constriction of the windpipe, or damage to the stomach, liver, kidneys or nerves.

It very rarely happens that anyone who practices artificial breathing does not harm himself irreparably, and this rare case occurs only if he stops in time.  Whoever does it for a long time invariably has deplorable results.

If you know every small screw, every little pin of your machine, only then can you know what you must do.  But if you just know a little and experiment, you risk a great deal, because the machine is very complicated.  There are many tiny screws which might easily be broken by a strong shock and which cannot afterwards be bought in any shop. 
Therefore—since you have asked me for it–my advice to you is: stop  your breathing exercises.

Our conversation with the dervish continued for quite a long time…            
                                                                                (Meetings with Remarkable Men, pages.187-190)

That excerpt contains a lot of information, and not all of it is readily apparent; but, even on the surface there is information that we actually need, particularly in the matter of being extremely cautious with regard to breathing exercises as generally practiced, which is to say, in ignorance.  We need a great deal of caution in this area because of the great temptation to try breathing exercises as taught by some “Tom, Dick, or Swami.”  Let some Tom or Dick don a flowing robe and a turban, and the former life-long ignoramus becomes an “instant Swami;” so, it is good to take seriously and retain all of the above warnings.
However, if you will read that section again, carefully, and then pause and ponder, and try to tease out what is missing (the presence of an absence), you will find no admonition against breathing exercises per se, but only those done in ignorance of, specifically, “the knowledge of the fundamental laws of breathing in all particulars.”
You may also find it interesting and instructive to notice that the old dervish’s long and detailed talk actually serves as a pretty good demonstration of something of importance. When Gurdjieff simply ‘tells’ us something, it quite often means something else; but when he has something of real importance to say he usually does not just ‘say’ it, rather he gives us a demonstration of that which he wishes to communicate to us.  In the above excerpt what he is demonstrating is the old dervish’s (or Gurdjieff’s) broad, in-depth and detailed knowledge of the business of breathing and breathing exercises.  We will encounter a similar demonstration in a following related story about another kind and wise old man.
o, the very real but subtle implication of the above section is that it just might be possible to benefit from such or similar exercises, but only on the condition that we are guided by a person who is not so ignorant as ourselves, nor as naïve as Gurdjieff was pretending to be in that scenario of Meetings.  Obviously, like the old dervish, our guide will have to be in personal possession of what he calls, “the knowledge of the fundamental laws of breathing in all particulars.”
Of course, any person who knows enough to warn us away from engaging in breathing exercises done in ignorance as well as knowing the various major and specific kinds of harm we may inflict on our bodies by doing so, and, moreover, knows of both the evolutionary and involutionary elements in the air (LIR pg 129, fourth excerpt below), must, by exceedingly strong implication, know enough to become instructor to us so that we, in a proper and informed way, can benefit from what are called "breathing exercises," but done in a way that would either negate or compensate for the dangers present in the form of the involutionary element of the air which causes such damage as a result of breathing exercises, ignorantly done.

And that person, of course, is Gurdjieff. .

So then, where and how did he both conceal this information from normal three-brained beings and yet potentially reveal it to those who are able, and can remember, and will make the effort, to find and decipher and comprehend the rather well concealed sections of the third version of his books (third series) written in picture-form language?  The answer to that question is what our investigation is about, in the pursuit of which we will need to learn how to identify such passages, and we will get to just that starting with our next chapter.

As we by now well know from the above excerpt, Gurdjieff wrote in ‘great detail’ about the remarks of the old dervish in which he warned Gurdjieff (and us) against breathing exercises when performed in ignorance; but their discussions did not end there.  As indicated by Gurdjieff:

"Our conversation with the dervish continued for quite a long time…  (“Meetings”, p.190)

Skipping to the top of page 191, Ekim Bey is speaking: "That is why I beg you, if it is possible, not to refuse to give me now a few brief indications and guiding principles of life, appropriate to a man of my age."

Gurdjieff continues: "To this unexpected and high-sounding request of Ekim Bey, this venerable man, the Persian dervish replied with precision and in great detail."

That last remark contains two ‘alerts’.  The venerable dervish did not simply reply, but he replied “with precision,” and in “great detail.”  Perhaps one should wonder: did the old dervish continue and expand on that topic of breathing exercises; did he cover in ‘great detail’ the proper way to perform breathing exercises without risking damage our bodies and internal organs in the process; and, did Gurdjieff, who had already been chided for his ignorant breathing practices, ask about that?  Given what we know about Gurdjieff, along with his remarks in the following excerpt, I think we can answer those questions with a confident “yes, of course.”  But Gurdjieff appears to cut off any further revelations on that count, at least within his second series, with the following statement:

    "I will not record here, in this second series of my writing, what he then explained, considering it premature for serious readers and, as regards the correct sequential perception of all my writings, even harmful to the aim of genuine understanding.  I have therefore decided, with a clear conscience, to expound the quintessence of these explanations only later, in a corresponding chapter of the third series of my writings, entitled ‘The physical body of man, its needs according to law, and possibilities of manifestation’."

With that we are directed to the third series for the answers to any further questions we may have on the matter of breathing exercises in relation to the physical body.  His remark that he has decided, “with a clear conscience,” to expound these explanations in his third series is tantamount to a commitment, or a promise to do so.

But that phrase, “the correct sequential perception of all my writings” caught my attention then, and was recalled a short time later, and that is because sequential to their conversations with the old dervish and after another fairly short account of their ongoing ‘travelogue’ we suddenly find Gurdjieff and company in similar circumstances, in conversation with yet another and remarkably similar wise old man, one who is this time called by Gurdjieff an old ez-ezounavouran.  By virtue of this similar meeting and conversation following so closely behind the conversations with the old dervish, and given the similarity of the circumstances and Gurdjieff’s remark about “correct sequential perception,” perhaps we should consider whether this conversation is more of a continuation of the previous conversation instead of being an entirely new and different one.

Talk #2.  The old Ez-ezounavouran

In this particular story Gurdjieff tells us of three instances where this old ez-ezounavouran cures three unrelated ailments of three of Gurdjieff’s travel companions; but, we should consider, ‘why’ is he telling us all of this?  Since it is highly unlikely that any of us will contract any of the three disorders mentioned in the following conversations, then, of what use is such information to us?  As you are reading the following excerpt, see whether you can determine what is it that Gurdjieff is ‘really’ “telling” us?  Let’s go to the text, which is found in (Meetings, p.220-222)

" … Professor Skridlov took the old man’s picture with his camera and immediately began developing it.        

"While he was doing this we all gathered round the old man, under the shade of a fig-tree.  Among us was Vitvitskaia, who had her neck bound up, as she had been suffering for some months from a painful affection of the throat, fairly common in the mountains, which had the appearance of a goitre.

"Seeing her bandage, the old man asked what the trouble was.  We explained and, calling her to him, the old man closely examined the swelling.  He told Vitvitskaia to lie on her back, and he then began to         massage the swelling in various ways, at the same time whispering certain words.

"We were all indescribably amazed when, after twenty minutes of massage, Vitvitskaia’s enormous swelling began to disappear before everyone’s eyes, and after a further twenty minutes absolutely nothing remained of it.

"Just then Professor Skridlov came back, having finished developing and printing the old man’s photograph.  He too was greatly astonished and, bowing deeply before the old man, humbly entreated him to relieve him of an attack, from which he had been suffering acutely the last few days, of his long established kidney trouble.

"The ez-ezounavouran asked him for various details of his illness, and immediately sent off one of his pupils, who soon returned with the root of a certain small shrub.  Giving this root to the professor, the old man said: ‘You must take one part of this root with two parts of the bark of the fig-tree, which you can find almost everywhere; boil them well   together and, every other day for two months, drink a glassful of this liquid before going to sleep. 
// (three paragraphs)
"As the old man prepared to leave, Yelov also addressed him, asking whether he would be good enough to advise him what to do about his eyes.  Several years before in the Transcaspian region, he had contracted trachoma and, in spite of all kinds off treatments, the malady   had not been cured but had become chronic. ‘Although my eyes,’ he said, ‘do not bother me all the time, nevertheless in the mornings they are always closed up with excretions, and a change of climate or a sand-storm makes them rather painful.’

"The old ez-ezounavouran advised him to grind some copper sulphate very fine and, every evening before going to sleep, to moisten a needle with his own saliva, dip it into the ground sulphate and draw it between the eyelids; and to continue this treatment for a certain period of time.
//six paragraphs
"From that time on Vitvitskaia never had a recurrence or even any of the symptoms of the malady from which she had been suffering.  Professor Skridlov did not know how to express his gratitude towards the old man    who had cured him, probably forever, of the sufferings which had tortured him for twelve years.  And as for Yelov, a month later his trachoma was gone.

What is it, with all of the descriptions of the maladies and sufferings with which three of Gurdjieff’s companions were and had been plagued for years, and in Skridlov’s case for twelve years, along with fairly detailed remedies prescribed by the old ez-ezounavouran, that Gurdjieff is really telling us?   Actually, he is not just telling us this ’something’, he is demonstrating it. 

It is, in my opinion, a demonstration of the old man’s (or Gurdjieff’s) fairly amazing grasp of the requirements of the human body, the various ailments which can afflict our bodies, and the cures for those ailments.  The old man is portrayed as having in his possession a vast and deep understanding not only of what we call medical knowledge, but even a great deal more than that.  But the old man is not the point.  Gurdjieff may have actually conveyed to us two real instances of speaking with two real wise old men, or perhaps they were just made up.  He could have learned such things elsewhere (but he had to learn somewhere), perhaps in discussions with Dean Borsh, or in long talks with other doctors and teachers and perhaps a dozen other old men, all of whom he possibly rolled into a composite in the form of “wise old men.”  But that doesn’t concern us; nor does the possession of such vast medical knowledge by either of the old men matter at all. 

What does concern us is that Gurdjieff learned from them.  Knowing something of Gurdjieff, we can be confident that he did not merely ask a few questions and then leave it at that; that was not his style.  Once he identified those two old men (or anyone else) as a source of true knowledge he did not easily let go of them, but he hung on to them with great tenacity, and he even went so far as to follow them home where he then persuaded, and probably, with all due respect of course, politely ‘pestered’ them until he finally got what he wanted.  The point of all the above is not merely to tell, but to demonstrate to us that it is now not the old men but Gurdjieff who is in possession of such broad and deep knowledge of things pertaining not only to the needs of the physical body of man, but, as we shall see, even concerning the astral body of man, and that he possesses that broad and in-depth knowledge “in all particulars.”

The conversations with this second old man ‘almost’ ended when the old man got up to go home, but he would not be shed of Gurdjieff by a mere bow and a blessing because Gurdjieff was not done with him, not yet; and so Gurdjieff, along with his companions and even their dogs followed the old man:

"…the venerable man rose and, making to each of us the gesture which in those regions signifies what we call a blessing, went towards his dwelling-place; and all of us, even our dogs, accompanied him.

On the way we resumed our conversation with the old man.  Suddenly, Karpenko, without consulting any of us, addressed him in the Uzbek language and said: ‘Holy Father! As by the will of fate we have met you in such unusual surroundings, a man great in knowledge and rich in experience of ordinary life as well as on the level of self-preparation for the being after death, we are all convinced beyond doubt that you will not refuse to give us your advice, of course so far as this is possible, on the life we should live and the ideals that we should hold before us, in order that we may ultimately be able to live as designed from Above and as is worthy of man.’

"Before replying to this strange question of Karpenko’s, the old man began to look round as if he were searching for something, and then went towards the trunk of a fallen tree.

"He sat down on it, and when we had seated ourselves, some on the tree and others simply on the ground, he turned to all of us and slowly began to speak. His reply to Karpenko’s question developed into a kind of lengthy sermon, of profound interest and significance."     (Meetings, p.222-223)

Let’s take a closer look at the last paragraph, where Gurdjieff writes: “His reply to Karpenko’s question developed into a kind of lengthy sermon, of profound interest and significance.”

As we know from our previous studies, Gurdjieff has a collection of favorite ‘high-powered’ words which he uses in various ways to alert us, to signal to us, that we should pay close attention to a particular passage within which he has placed significant information, or a significant teaching on some matter, and he often informs us of that significance by saying, for instance, that we might find something particularly “instructive,” or “informative,” or of particular “significance,” and so on.  For Gurdjieff to use the three such key alert words: “profound,” “interest,” and “significance,” all in that one last sentence in the last above paragraph tells us that something very, very big is afoot in that old man’s profound sermon.  What might that be?  Well, from the first excerpt we know that they had been discussing breathing exercises with the old dervish, and the sorry results of engaging in such exercises in ignorance.

If we are correct in regarding this meeting and conversation to be a continuation of the previous conversation with the old dervish, then the subject matter discussed here will also be sequentially related to the previous topic, which was the effects of breathing exercises on the physical body of man; but, and ‘notably’, about the subject matter of this second conversation Gurdjieff never says a word; it is not identified; it is not so much as mentioned in the body of the conversation.  But we, having been alerted to the sequential nature of these revelations, can determine that this topic must be a ‘sequential’ continuation of the previous topic, breathing exercises, but in this case not related to the physical body, rather, as indicated in the following excerpt, as related to the astral body of man (the food of which is the air we ‘breathe’), which confirms the topic of the old man’s sermon while fitting nicely into Gurdjieff’s framework of correct sequential perception and presentation.

You may appreciate the distinction between the more usual phrase – “the correct sequential presentation,” and what he wrote – “the correct sequential perception.”  Gurdjieff’s use of the word “perception” instead of the expected “presentation” is a subtle use of what he calls “logical inconsistency.”  With that phrase he places the burden of the comprehension of his ‘present method’ on us; and, somewhat subtly perhaps, he lets us know as much. But the phrase he did ‘not’ write applies as well; because if he can expect of us “the correct sequential perception,” then, by implication, he will present it to us in the correct sequence, i. e., “the correct sequential presentation.”  Keep both phrases in mind as we continue our analysis of the three talks.

Gurdjieff does not here give us the contents of that profound sermon of the old ez-ezounavouran.  Just as Gurdjieff indicated that he would cover and expand on the previous conversation in more detail in his third series, in a chapter entitled “The physical body of man, its needs according to law, and possibilities of manifestation”, likewise in this present case and in strikingly similar (almost identical) fashion Gurdjieff indicates that there will be a continuation of this conversation, or a reporting on the old man’s “lengthy sermon of profound interest and significance,” but only in his third series, and it will be related to the astral body.  Continuing from where we left off with the above excerpt, Gurdjieff now comments:

he words then spoken by this old ez-ezounavouran I will also record, but only in the third series of my writings, in a chapter entitled 'The astral body of man, it's needs and possibilities of manifestation according to law'."

As I said, it is ‘strikingly similar’ to Gurdjieff’s closing remarks for the first old man’s talk; and this is just the second time Gurdjieff uses strikingly similar words and phrases.  There is a third instance where he uses those words and phrases in an almost identical remark, and again in conjunction with yet another wise old man, one who goes by the name of Father Giovanni. 

But before we go on to that, let’s review what we have observed in Gurdjieff’s presentation of the first two talks, and see what can be derived from that. In this review we are not looking for something in what he says, we are looking for something he does ‘not’ say – and in that, we are looking for something that he is ‘demonstrating’ which is, of course, one of his favorite techniques.

We have reviewed two talks which Gurdjieff later confirms are related.  Both talks deal with bodies: the first talk with the physical body of man; and the second talk with the astral body of man, and Gurdjieff makes that obvious and clear.  Also, they both deal with breathing, although Gurdjieff makes that clear ‘only’ in the first talk.  In the second talk we have to derive that for ourselves; but Gurdjieff has mentioned that the food of Kesdjan body is the air we ‘breathe’ so many times both in his writings as well as in his talks which were recorded by Ouspensky and other pupils that he knew we would easily make the connection and “fill in the blank” regarding the topic of the second talk, which is – breathing in relation to the astral body.  So, what Gurdjieff has done with that omission is to give us, to demonstrate for us a practice, and, in this case, a precedent.  He could have easily mentioned ‘breathing’ in that talk, but he didn’t, he left that blank so that ‘we’ would find it necessary, and naturally so, to ‘fill in that blank.’

Again, and more closely this time: we have two talks (soon to become three); both talks are about bodies, and both are about breathing; in the first talk Gurdjieff leaves out nothing; but, in the second talk he becomes more subtle; he leaves out the topic of breathing, leaving to us to fill in that blank; and that is the precedent.  As pointed out in several examples in Hidden Meanings, what he has demonstrated and brought to our attention once, he ‘will’ use again later, but without further notice.  As in the first two talks we see Gurdjieff becoming progressively more subtle and vague, we can expect even more of that in the third talk.

We are expected to notice his intentional omissions, and our cognizance of his sequentially increasing subtlety is precisely what he means by his phrase “the correct sequential perception.”  So, precedent noted, let’s carry our awareness of that precedent with us and see whether we can discern what he leaves out, what blanks he leaves for us to fill, as we examine the third talk.

                                     Talk #3.  Father Giovanni

The section of Meetings which relates to Father Giovanni runs from about page 238 to page 244.  After speaking of faith, understanding, and brothers Sez and Ahl, we will join the continuing conversation between Father Giovanni, Gurdjieff, and Professor Skridlov on page 242.

As you read, notice how full to the brim is this passage with Gurdjieff’s ‘alert’ words and phrases such as ‘extraordinary,’ ‘rare,’ ‘enormous interest,’ ‘remarkable,’ and such; so much so that it is difficult to regard Gurdjieff’s description of his and Skridlov’s talk with Father Giovanni as anything less than the most, most important and significant of the three talks. Here Gurdjieff is relating their conversation to us:

"We had many never-to-be-forgotten-talks with Father Giovanni. Many extraordinary questions which never enter the heads of contemporary people were then aroused in us and elucidated by this rare man, Father Giovanni, the like of whom is scarcely ever met with in contemporary life.  One of his explanations, which followed a question put to him by Professor Skridlov two days before we left the monastery, is of enormous interest for everyone, owing to the depth of the thoughts  it contained and its possible significance for contemporary people who have already reached responsible age.

"This question of Professor Skridlov was torn from him as from the depths of his being, when Father Giovanni had said that, before counting on really coming under the effects and influences of the higher      forces, it was absolutely necessary to have a soul, which it was possible to acquire only through voluntary and involuntary experiencings and information intentionally learned about real events which had taken place in the past.  He convincingly added that this in its turn was possible almost exclusively in youth, when the definite data received from Great Nature are not yet spent on unnecessary, fantastic aims, which appear to be good owing only to the abnormally established conditions of the life of people. 

"At these words Professor Skridlov sighed deeply and exclaimed in despair: ‘What, then, can we do; how can we live on?’ "

"In answer to this exclamation of Skridlov, Father Giovanni, having remained silent for a moment, expressed those remarkable thoughts which I consider it necessary to reproduce, in so far as possible, word for word."

As with the two previous talks of the Persian dervish and the ez-ezounavouran, Gurdjieff defers until later his recounting of what Father Giovanni had to say, referring us yet again to his third series; but, unlike before, this time, as expected, he says, and does not say, just a wee bit more.

"I shall place them, as relating to the question of the soul, that is, the third independently formed part of the common presence of a man, in the chapter entitled ‘The divine body of man, and its needs and possible manifestations according to law‘, but only in the third series of my writings, as complementary to two chapters of the same series which I have already decided and promised to devote—one to the words of the venerable Persian dervish concerning the body, that is, the first independently formed part in the common presence of a man, and the other to the elucidations of the old ez-ezounavouran concerning the second independently formed part of a man, namely, his spirit."

With that remark Gurdjieff binds the three talks together.  Gurdjieff’s use of the word “complementary” does not mean that the talks flatter one another or go together in a stylish manner, which would be “complimentary,” but his use of that word comes from the mathematical meaning and use, which means, in general, to complete, or make whole; as, for instance, 1/4 is the complement of 3/4, the sum of the two fractions equaling 1.  In this case, and giving the talks some approximation of their proper weight, the first talk could be represented as 1/8, the second as 2/8, and the third as 5/8, the sum of which equals one whole message, and then some.  In this case, as with Gurdjieff in general, the result is far greater than the sum of its parts.  Still, remove any one of the talks, and the message becomes incomplete; it falls apart. 

You may initially be surprised by the asymmetrical weights indicating the relative importance of the three talks which I have assigned to them.  The reason for that will be made clear to you momentarily.  And, of course, there is more…

Two Statements

The excerpts of those three talks, taken together, along with Gurdjieff’s remarks that he will cover the old men’s further talks but only in his third series, make two clear statements: first, that Gurdjieff now possesses that previously mentioned and demonstrated knowledge, “in all particulars”; and second, it is a clear announcement by Gurdjieff that further instruction on breathing in conjunction with both the flesh and blood body and the Astral body (instruction which we seek) will follow, and will be found in Gurdjieff’s third series, which as we know is in actuality the third layer of various parts of all of his books, and which parts are composed of the images that lay behind the words, written in picture-form language.  Also, our initial interpretation of his remark following the first talk with the old dervish to the effect that his decision to reveal the dervish’s further instruction only later was made “with a clear conscience” was tantamount to a promise is confirmed in the last paragraph of the above excerpt.

But there is something else that Gurdjieff just slips in with and among all of the information contained within the storytelling, the conversations and such, in his last above sentence (paragraph).  If you will look at that one again, you will see that he clears up at least two issues about which some have been a little perplexed for a long time.  The first body of man, as we know, is the physical body.  The second being-body which in the second talk is identified as the Astral body, and which is also referred to by Gurdjieff elsewhere as the Kesdjan body, is, in the above excerpt, identified as a man’s spirit. 

And the third being-body, also referred to in various places as higher-being body, and/or mental body, is in the above excerpt identified as “the divine body of man,” from which, when taken in context of Father Giovanni’s talk which is about the soul, in conjunction with Gurdjieff’s closing remarks, we know with confidence is in fact the soul of a man.
Incidentally, from the above, in conjunction with what we derive from Gurdjieff’s talks as recorded by Ouspensky, we can ascertain the following: kesdjan body, which is associated with the higher emotional center, which is associated with the normal emotional center, which is the center of gravity of essence (right “breast”), is, when present, a man’s spirit.  Higher body, which is associated with the higher mental center, which is associated with the normal mental center, which is the center of gravity of personality (left “breast”), is, when present, a man’s soul.  From that we can see that we absolutely do need both essence and personality in order to evolve, and, as Gurdjieff has said, we need them in balance. ----------------------------------

Getting back to the three talks we have just reviewed: if the promised ‘continuation’ of those three conversations with the wise old men were to be presented as if they were graduate level college courses on breathing as a tool in the creation of higher bodies, it would perhaps read something like the following:

1st Talk-Breathing 501: Breathing exercises in relation to the physical body. We examine, in detail, some of the negative effects on the body of breathing exercises when performed with insufficient data.

2nd Talk-Breathing 601: Breathing exercises in relation to the creation as well as the feeding and further development of the astral body. We cover the fundamental laws of breathing in all particulars.

If that were the case I’m sure we would all say, “Sign me up!”  I wish it were that easy.  And then there is the third, the most important talk:

3rd Talk-Breathing, 701: TBD…

As for the topic of that third talk, ‘part’ of what “Father Giovanni” said was that: "before counting on really coming under the effects and influences of the higher forces, it was absolutely necessary to have a soul, which it was  possible to acquire only through voluntary and involuntary experiencings and information intentionally learned about real events which had taken place in the past."

That remark about needing “information” should give us pause – and that pause which is intentionally provoked in us by Gurdjieff should be taken as an ‘alert’; because, as we know, and as Gurdjieff has said many times and many ways, mere information in and of itself will do us little good and will perhaps accomplish the opposite of good.  Just knowing about “real events which had taken place in the past” would be meaningless or even less than meaningless to us – unless we are able to apply that information and actually gain real and constructive “experiencings” from that application (the word “experiencings” is so unusual and attention-drawing, perhaps it also means something unusual and is another ‘alert’).  If that information is about something necessary and useful, and if we gain and then act on that information so that we are able to take unto ourselves the benefits of the “experiencings” made possible by that information, perhaps much can be accomplished in our efforts toward forming and increasing within ourselves not only an astral body, but even a divine body – what is called the soul of a man.

Now, In order to be consistent, which is Gurdjieff’s “middle name,” and in keeping with the tenets of the correct sequential presentation as well as the correct sequential perception of the three talks, given that the first two talks are about bodies and breathing, the third talk must conform to that pattern and also relate to bodies and breathing, although, Gurdjieff does not have to ‘say’ that because he has given us a demonstration of his progressive method.  All three talks are concerned with bodies: the physical, the astral, or the divine.  They are also about breathing, but only in the first talk does he actually say that; in the second talk it is not directly mentioned, but it is left to us to fill in that blank. 

To put his process of diminishing information more concisely: all three talks are about two things – bodies and ‘something’ else.  About what that ‘something’ is, in the first talk, he ‘says,’ in the second, he ‘implies,’ in the third, ‘nothing’ – or, ‘seemingly’ nothing.  Having demonstrated his pattern, it is up to us first to notice that pattern, and then to achieve the “correct perception” indicated by that pattern and thus complete the subject of the third talk, which, according to Gurdjieff’s established and demonstrated pattern, is breathing.  But, the only vague, slight reference made to breathing in that third talk is made lightly and quite indirectly with the words, “experiencings and information… about real events [of] the past,” such as, for instance, the ‘ancient’ breathing exercise we seek in order to partake of that breathing exercise’s benefits; in other words, in order to personally ‘experience’ that ancient exercise. 

What Gurdjieff leaves out, what he does not here say, is that “Father Giovanni’s” (actually Gurdjieff’s) reference to information about real events of the ‘past’ just might (and does) include a real historical event which we will cover in Chapter Five, and which is related to that ‘ancient’ breathing exercise which is both concealed and mimed by Gurdjieff – but not just the physical elements and mechanics of it.  While the physical properties of the exercise are sufficient for the formation of astral body, in the case of the formation of the higher body the physical aspects of the exercise are not quite enough.  For that higher purpose the breathing exercise must, and does, incorporate several essential considerations (and exertions) of conscious awareness of impressions, which we will cover further at a more appropriate time, later in this book.  The only thing I will say about that at present is the following:

In case you haven’t noticed, which possibility is remote at best, you have already been given, compliments of Gurdjieff, a mental work-out in the ‘exertions’ of awareness and consciousness by way of your long and persistent struggles to fathom his written teachings.  He has been giving, and you have been receiving, the benefits of the exertion of your consciousness, and information about real events which have taken place in the past, both necessary elements in the formation of higher-being body, from the very beginning of your studies of his ideas.  A little more of that exertion tacked onto his breathing exercise is now, after so many years, not so much, and certainly nothing new to you.  Perhaps, at this point in your work, you can even begin to look forward to it in pleasant anticipation.  Combine all of your past, present, and future mental efforts in your attempts to fathom his writings, with the performance of his ancient breathing exercise which requires even more such efforts and you have Gurdjieff’s recipe for some real and rather substantial progress in your personal evolution.

In other words: I, you, we, have been in training all these years; we have been preparing, or have been in process of being prepared for the next step, and we haven’t even known it.  That, in my opinion, is a very nice bonus for all our work.

Before we move on, I will add that the “voluntary and involuntary experiencings” are not reference to experience in life in general, but are specific to the ancient breathing exercise we seek.  The finding and learning and performing of that exercise will certainly be a voluntary experience; and then, from the experiencing of the exercise repeatedly and consciously over time, one will have other, involuntary, experiencings in terms of predictable and noticeable ‘results’ of the prolonged performance of that exercise.  So, initially, our experiencings will be voluntary (intentional), later, our experiencings (the results of performing the exercise) will by Involuntary (the results will manifest of their own volition).

In any event I think it clear by now that Gurdjieff is not going to give the answers we seek in the second layer of Meetings with Remarkable Men, nor anywhere else within the writings of the second series, but only in the third series.  However, it is not so simple as to just ‘know’ that further instructions are waiting for us there in the third series, we must first of all find them. And if we really wish to find and decipher such third version sections of his writings we must become more expert in the identification of his hints and methods of ‘flagging’ something; in short, we must learn all the tell-tale signs which will alert us to the presence of such passages, some large part of which we will address in our next chapter.

Since the following is closely related to the above excerpts, we will include in our background preparation this fourth passage, which is the last part of the Fourth Talk of Life is real, concerning a particularity of the air which Gurdjieff says, among other things, is a secret known to initiates of all epochs.

                Talk #4.  A Secret of Initiates of all Epochs

 In this excerpt, in which we are notified of additional advanced information about the air we breathe, which I shall call “Breathing, 801”, Gurdjieff writes:


 "The air…is composed of two kinds of active elements with two properties, quite contradictory in their totality.  One kind of active element has a subjective process of evolutionary striving, and the other of involutionary  

"The air…acquires and possesses a multitude of specific particularities.  From among this multitude of particularities, we, for the present case, must know about that one which since long ago has in the process of human life always been one of the chief secrets of all ranks of initiates of all epochs.

"This particularity is that. . . ."                         (LIR p.129-130)


A cryptic ending?  Of course.  But he does provide for an answer, just not in that particular place, or even in that book.  And that answer is directly related to the breathing exercise provided by Gurdjieff, and which we now seek in earnest.  He provides the overall answer by demonstration, or mime, in that peculiar passage of Beelzebub’s Tales to which I’ve referred, and which both you and I have read repeatedly, perhaps feeling a little something, a little puzzlement which might have left you in the same condition as it left me, sort of “scratching the head.”


But no more puzzlement and no more scratching the head.  We finally have the answer.  This recently discovered real knowledge concerning the correct breathing practice, and which is conveyed by Gurdjieff in his peculiar passage in Beelzebub’s Tales, is ancient.  With my initial research I was able to easily trace it back for several hundred years, and, based on my further research, it looked for awhile as though it was as much as a thousand or even fifteen hundred years old; however, based on my most current research, I have found that in agreement with Gurdjieff's words - "one of the chief secrets of all ranks of initiates of all epochs," it is even much older than that.  It is ancient, indeed.  That breathing exercise will be the chief topic of this book; but, be well advised, do not expect "roast pigeons" to just fly into your mouth.

I have had much to consider in deciding just how to present this material in the proper way, not too much, and not too little, so that you will be able, over time and given sufficient preparation and effort on your part, to connect the dots in a manner similar to, but perhaps a little more difficult than, what we did regarding Gurdjieff's "theatrical demonstration" in my first book, “Hidden Meanings,” and that is for two very important reasons: first, (for your benefit) for this to be of any practical and personal use to you, you must discover, you must come to understand fully and internalize the information as well as the actual practice of this exercise for yourself; and second, (for my benefit) I have my own historically verified and personal concerns about a little known phenomenon, one which I do not wish to experience again, and which is called by Gurdjieff Tzvarnoharno.  Although I previously thought Tzvarnoharno to be a mere device used in order to lure us into the study of Herald, I subsequently learned, by way of a rather harsh lesson, otherwise.  It is a real force, with real, and sometimes serious, consequences.  Given that reality, you will understand if I give this issue much and careful consideration.  And so we begin, or, more correctly said, we now renew, our journey.

There are three obligatory considerations which must be covered in our search, and they are:

1. This is about an ancient, secret, teaching.  How ancient; and how is such secret teaching revealed by Gurdjieff to not just anyone, but only to worthy pupils?

2. This is about Kesdjan Body.  We know so little, except in the abstract; perhaps we can learn a little more about it on what is called the “nuts and bolts” level.

3. This is about Air, the air we breathe.  We know more about the food we eat and the water we drink than we know about the air we breathe.  That must change.  We must become not only better informed about the air, we must become almost, if not in fact, experts on the subject.

And so, first, by way of consideration no.1, we will review the overall setting, and, at the same time, preview our future direction of travel.  We will deal with the other two considerations, perhaps more than once, in several other opportune places later.


This is about an ancient, secret, teaching.

The teaching we seek is old, it is ancient, it includes and is intimately involved with “one of the chief secrets of all ranks of initiates of all epochs.” 

How ancient, and where do we begin to look for that secret teaching?  Well, as should be expected, Gurdjieff provides us with a major hint, although it is presented in his usual and smooth “just in passing,” very low profile manner:

"During these travels of mine I remained nowhere for long excepting in certain independent countries on the continent Asia called ‘China,’ ‘India,’ ‘Tibet,’ and of course also that lately largest half-Asiatic half-European community called ‘Russia'." (Beelzebub’s Tales, p. 530-531)

Russia can be dismissed from any significance in Beelzebub’s above remark because, aside from the fact that Gurdjieff mentions Russia grammatically separated from the three other countries, placing it last in the above remark as a sort of “tag line,” he, “Beelzebub”, in the person of Gurdjieff, inevitably spent a lot of time there not due to any particular interest he had in that area, but simply because he lived there, or in countries occupied and controlled by Russia for some large portions of his life.  It is the remaining three countries,
China, India, and Tibet, which hold our interest because although they were not his home base, they still warranted, for some reason, comparatively lengthy stays.

And so, in this hint which also carries a great deal of background information, “Beelzebub” tells us that he spent some long periods of time in places, wherein the ancient cultures and religions indigenous to these regions have provided us with literally tons of records in the form of some of the earliest written texts from ancient history, which history easily covers several of Gurdjieff’s above mentioned “epochs.”

ut that is such a vast area, so much has been written and assiduously preserved over so many centuries that it is an almost impossible task to go through it all and filter out (and on what criteria?) those parts relevant to our goal.  In fact, it would seem to be a task of unimaginable proportions and complexity.  So, what are we going to do?

We are going to become detectives, that’s what; and if we are clever at it we just may detect a thing or two of importance; besides, Gurdjieff did leave another hint, a somewhat more subtle one, but also more conclusive, which hint is more productively saved for later in this book.  Meanwhile, assuming the role of detectives, let’s review what we already have:

We have: Beelzebub and three countries,
China, India, and Tibet; all three countries are located on the same continent, the Asian continent; we also have it that “Beelzebub” spent a lot of time in each of the three countries.  Why; just what do you suppose he was doing there? 

Well, what do we know about Beelzebub?  For one thing, based on our previous and rather extensive observations of Beelzebub’s usual behavior, or perhaps I should say Beelzebub’s compulsive behavior, based upon our observations of his favorite and almost constant daily activity he was in all likelihood studying something or doing some kind of research and observation.  He was almost always doing research of some kind.

Now that sounds right; and if we can determine what he was studying in each of those three countries, that  will perhaps narrow the field of possibilities greatly.  And so the question now becomes, “What was “Beelzebub” studying, researching, or observing in those three countries? 

Additionally, if we are really fortunate and find that he was studying the same thing, or even closely related things in those three places, then the  answer to the question “what was he studying?” will probably tell us precisely where to begin our search; and we will deal with that in some detail in our third to follow chapter.

Before that, in our next chapter I wish to inform you of, and also wish for you to then seriously consider and ponder, Gurdjieff’s cunning strategy for third series sections which are so cleverly concealed within his writings.


                                From the Author

                                    A message to the reader of my first chapter

First, if you would like to see what some of the students of Buried Dog II have to say about their experiences with the book, click here

And then, if after reading this first chapter, and upon reflection, you decide to pursue this book further and contact me by email, I will need a "little" information about you.  That is due to the following remark by Gurdjieff, speaking as Beelzebub, which is found in "Beelzebub's Tales," pages 901-902: 

"This interdiction on the beings of our tribe was made chiefly because it is necessary for the three-brained beings of your planet to have knowledge-of-being.  And any information, even if true, gives to beings in general only 'mental knowledge,' and this mental knowledge, as I have already told you, always serves only as a way to diminish their possibilities of acquiring this knowledge-of-being." 

In as much as this book possesses considerable content, I must be reasonably sure that you have made sufficient preparation and will likely be able to benefit by absorbing that content not as mental knowledge, but as knowledge-of-being.

So, in your email be sure to include such information about yourself as: who you are - age, country of residence, etc.; any past or present group affiliation; how long you've studied and your experience with Gurdjieff's books, as well as any other significant and related books; and anything else I've not asked about but which you think worth mentioning.  In particular, be sure to include the results of your study of my book "Hidden Meanings," along with any significant discoveries you may have made as a result of that study.

I do apologize for being so very "nosey," especially before we've even met.  However, if you have made sufficient preparation, then I'm sure you will understand and indulge my request.

Be well,

John Henderson

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